SAS land sell-off to reap $100m

EXCLUSIVE Nick Butterly Canberra
Prime location: Land around the SASR's headquarters in Swanbourne. Picture: Gerald Moscarda/The West Australian

Prime beachfront real estate that is home to Australia's military elite will go under the hammer as part of an historic Federal Government sale set to reap more than $100 million.

Special Air Service Regiment families were told on Monday the Government would push ahead with the redevelopment of Swanbourne's Seaward Village.

A quarter of the enclave will be sold to developers for private homes. But the Government is promising worried Defence families it will maintain a high level of security around the community and says all families currently in the village will be able to stay.

Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert told _The West Australian _ the Government would begin work on the site in 2017, providing it won needed State and council approvals.

SAS families have major concerns about the redevelopment plans, fearing encroachment by civilian homes would increase their security risk.

The Government will use the sale of the land to part fund a $180 million redevelopment of Seaward Village, demolishing old Defence homes to build a mix of homes and apartments for personnel and their families.

But the sale of land for private homes will not cover the entire cost of the development and the Government will have to tip in another $25 million to complete all works.

There are now 153 Defence Housing Australia homes in Seaward Village. The Government says there will be 165 Defence homes available for SAS families and unmarried personnel in the village by the time the development is complete in 2020.

The blocks for Defence homes will be smaller than they are now but will be larger than standard Defence blocks in other States.

The Minister said the Government would move families into the new homes in tranches.

Mr Robert has promised that all families currently in Seaward Village will be able to stay if they wish, but newly posted troopers might have to be accommodated off base in suburbs nearby.

DHA is looking to acquire a large number of new rental properties in Perth's western suburbs to accommodate SAS personnel and their families.

Mr Robert said he wanted to make clear the Government had heard and addressed the concerns of SAS families.

Last year, a number of usually publicity-shy SAS wives took the extraordinary step of contacting _The West Australian _to express their concerns about plans for a redevelopment.